Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heavy Rain

The Red River in North Dakota continues to flood and has reached a record 42 feet at Fargo. More rain and snow will complicate the flood this week.

Two low pressure areas, one over the Great Lakes and the second developing over New England will control our weather today into Monday. Heavy rain already falling along the 401 corridor will move into southern Quebec this afternoon. The heaviest rain will occur north of Montreal, over 35mm there, this has prompted heavy rain warnings. South of that region in Montreal and across New England and eastern Ontario lesser amounts of 15-25mm will occur. The rain is needed as it has been a very dry month. At this time there are no concerns for flooding.

The balance of the week will remain unsettled with periods of rain and snow possible again by mid week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pleasant in the east

The ice is on the move on the St. Lawrence River. Outside my home today the river has been changing every hour. Some times it is filled with ice the next moment ice free. The Seaway has yet to open but signs of life were present today as a US Coast Guard boat moved west towards Ontario from Montreal (below). IMG_1139 Some geese were actually along on an ice flow for the ride downstream at about 9am. The weather will remain fair and mild this weekend in our area with just a chance of showers Sunday.

Thankfully here in the east it appears flooding will not be an issue. It has been a very dry month in Ontario and Quebec and most of the snow is now gone. The same can’t be said for western North America. A stubborn storm track has been producing severe weather on a weekly basis in March. The most recent blizzard that affected the Dakotas and Manitoba has been replaced by another equally severe storm. Low pressure has moved form Colorado into the southern plains. Heavy snow and blizzard conditions are being reported from Colorado to northern Texas while south and east of there thunderstorms and tornadoes are occurring from Louisiana to Florida. This storm will be replaced by another on Sunday and yet another next week. As long as the storm track remain out west the weather will continue to be mild and dry here in Ontario and Quebec. Yesterday both Montreal and Ottawa recorded about 8mm of rain, only a drop in the bucket, and that was the single largest precipitation event for this month. So as you can see in stark contrast to last year it is very dry.

The sevGeeseere flooding along the Red River in North Dakota has slowed slightly because of colder weather, but still remains serious. The river is expected to crest at 43 feet near Fargo this weekend. That would be the highest flood on record. Further downstream in Grand Forks and northward into Manitoba, they continue to prepare and hope for the best. The weather is not expected to cooperate with the chance for more significant precipitation across the watershed this weekend and into next week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Floods, Blizzards and Tornadoes…ah Spring

A large swirling storm system in the central portion of North America is spinning north into western Ontario today. This storm has been responsible for heavy rain and snow across the Dakotas and Minnesota north into Manitoba. Some areas have received over 20 inches of snow. Strong winds have produced blowing and drifting snow along with zero visibility. East of the snow line it is heavy rain and Grand Forks ND 1997 lots of it on the already swollen Red River Valley. Thunderstorms and nearly a dozen tornadoes have also been reported along the trailing cold front. The storm will slide northward while the frontal system moves into Ontario and Quebec with rain on Thursday.

The Red River flows north from the Central plains into Manitoba. It is the dividing line along the North Dakota and Minnesota border. I had the advantage of crossing over the bridge you see in the photo above back in 1997. It was two months after this photo was taken. The 1997 flood broke records on both sides of the border for its depth, movement, extent and damage. When I travelled through Grand Forks, North Dakota in June 1997, there were still images of the devastation everywhere, including the building in the photo below.

There are indications that this years flood could be worse. Flood forecasters are expecting the river to reach almost 42 feet at Fargo this week. Yesterday volunteers packed hundreds of thousands of sandbags in an effort to save the town. Further north in Grand Forks where the photo was taken, they are preparing for the crest some time next week. All this water along with any new precipitation will flow north into Manitoba by early April. Civil Defence and Emergency officials are already preparing for what could be a record year. This story is just beginning and you will hear plenty about it over the next couple of weeks. For a complete history of Red River flooding and current updates check out the link below.

fire                    Current Red River Flood Information

Sunday, March 22, 2009

If you slept a little late this Sunday morning then you missed our brief return to winter overnight. A frontal boundary slipped across the St. Lawrence Valley with several hours of snow showers in both Montreal and Kemptville. Some areas received as much as 1-2cm with roads becoming slick in places. It has since cleared and the spring sun is shining brightly again. It will be a colder 24 hours ahead of us then yesterday with temperatures struggling to reach 3C today and dropping off to as cold as -12 tonight.

Big changes are underway for Manitoba and Saskatchewan and this may, and I say may set the stage for a late winter storm here in the east towards the end of the month. Portions of Manitoba and the Dakotas are preparing for heavy snow and blizzard conditions by late Monday with wind and arctic cold in Saskatchewan. This will be thanks to low pressure moving from Colorado to northwest Ontario. Heavy rain and thunderstorms will change to snow by late Monday with conditions deteriorating quickly by days end. It will snow well into Tuesday with very strong winds and impossible travel conditions in that area.

Here in the east this week will be just as calm as last week with no major systems in sight.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring has sprung 7:44ET

March 20, 2009…from

Vernal Equinox, 7:44 A.M. EDT

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." The vernal, or spring, equinox is the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, signalling the beginning of nature'sStreet Cleaning renewal in the Northern Hemisphere.

Spring has arrived, and whew we seem to have made it through another winter. It is a little cooler around most areas this morning with temperatures down around –8C. It will warm to the freezing point today, a little below normal for the first day of Spring. The weekend looks excellent with just a chance of a few widely scattered showers along a cold front overnight Saturday. Sunday is the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Montreal. A betting man would have expected snow on that day but not this year. It should be ideal but a little cool so dress well.

It has been an abnormally dry month across the region, and as the snow disappears and very little precipitation has fallen it appears most flood concerns have passed. It is so dry in some places that fire bans are in effect including St. Lawrence County in New York. The normal precipitation for Montreal for March is 77mm. So far this month we have only had 15mm with only 2.4cm of that being snow. This is such a different scenario than last March for certain.

Enjoy the weekend and be safe.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


A very thin line of showers is draped along the St. Lawrence Valley this morning. Most of us will only see a few spotty showers otherwise it will be another very mild day. Yesterday was spectacular with the mercury climbing above 10C in areas close to cool water, like Montreal and Cornwall and approaching 15 to 20C in places like Kemptville, and Windsor. Today will be a little cooler with the cloud cover, but still mild near 12C for most areas. It will cool only slightly for Thursday and Friday before another nice weekend. There are no big storms or cold air in sight for Ontario or Quebec.

The photo above is of last nights sunset in Montreal. Unfortunately the beautiful sunset is caused by smog over the city. The picture below is the result of work crews spreading around the huge mounds of dirty snow in parking lots around the city. This helps the snow melt faster so they can begin sweeping.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sunny and mild

Happy St Patty's Day
Spring is certainly making itself present on this St Patty's Day. It is sunny again and quite mild today with temperatures near 10C or 50F. Yesterday was mild in Kemptville at 7C but a northeast wind resulted in cooler temperatures for Montreal. It only reached 2C and the windchill was well below freezing most of the day. Today winds will be light and the sunshine will take hold and warm temperatures up very quickly. What little snow there is around continues to melt and the ice on the Seaway is breaking up as well.

There is officially only a trace of snow left on the ground at Dorval Airport which made me take a look at past March's to see where they compare. Last year, 2008, we still had mounds of snow left with over 40cm on the ground. That was nothing compared to 1971 when we had well over 100cm of snow remaining. March 71 was snowy, windy and cold the entire moth and Spring arrived late. On April 3 & 4, 1975 we had a massive snowstorm with winds of nearly 100km/h. The heavy wet snow and wind paralyzed the city for more than a day.

So as you can see, winter may not be finished with us just yet, but enjoy the nice weather.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring – one week early

Admit it, we deserve this. After what seemed like a cold, long, icy, snowy winter, we are enjoying a very spring like weekend, one week earlBuds March 14y. Spring does not arrive till early Friday morning, but you would not be able to tell that this weekend. After temperatures between plus 5 and 10C yesterday we are already at 7C today at 11am in Montreal and Kemptville. The sun is warm, what is left of the patches of snow is melting, and dare I say I even saw a bud or two on the trees and some green patches on the lawn. Enjoy the weather it will be mild all week.Sunset Mar 14 ChamplainAbove: A spectacular sunset along the Canadian border in Champlain, NY last evening. The smaller photo is buds on the trees along Lake Champlain in Plattsburg, NY.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Awesome Weekend

With just one week left in the winter of 2008/2009, this weekend is looking spectacular. It will not be as warm as first expected, but close to normal nonetheless. Normal for this time of year is around 2C. With those temperatures, and the warm March sunshine it should be ideal for any type of outdoor activity.

I always love how at this time of year spring comes first to the sunny side of the street. At my parents place in Lasalle, QC., their front yard gets the sun all day and has no snow left, just brown grass. The back yard - in the shade - has nearly 2 feet of snow in it. Can you say micro climate!

Be safe and enjoy the mild weekend. Travel in all areas of eastern Ontario, western Quebec and New England/New York should be great. Further south for spring breakers there could be some weather in the form of rain and freezing rain across the Tennessee Valley and the middle Atlantic region. Flying, no problem, driving you may encounter some icy roads midway through your trip to Florida or other points south.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Strong winds across region

High winds along a sharp cold front have been gusting over 70km/h across Ontario and Quebec today. Winds have been recorded at 93kmStrong Winds March 10/h in Kingston, 68km/h in Montreal and 82km/h in Toronto. The strong winds have cut power to over 10,000 homes serviced by Hydro One in Ontario. No data is available as usual from Hydro Quebec. Colder air is also moving into the region. Toronto was 8C this morning and dropped to –1C by 4pm. Montreal reached 10C at 2pm but it has since dropped to 6C.

The wind is also playing havoc with driving along highway 20 both in the southwest corner of the province near the Ontario border, and southeast of Montreal along the south shore. The SQ is advising large trucks to travel with great caution. Back in February during a similar storm 2 semis were blown off Highway 20 near St. Bruno.


Photos: Above A warning on the Champlain Bridge today. At left Hydro Quebec was kept busy with today's strong winds.

High Wind Warnings

Environment Canada has issued High Wind Warnings for all of the southern and eastern Ontario and southern Quebec. Winds are increasing this morning across the area in response to an advancing cold front. Look for the strongest winds to be along the St. Lawrence River Valley where they will gust over 90km/h. Most areas will see 50-70km/h winds. Winds this strong can cause damage and are dangerous on open highways. The rain associated with the system is falling now over the entire area, and it is heavy at times. It should taper off this afternoon and we may even see a glimpse of sun.

Northwest of the area of low pressure, on the cold side of the storm, blizzard conditionsnow-plow_20081020125712_640_480s were reported across northwest Ontario, Minnesota and the Dakotas. Numerous highways had to be closed due to strong winds, deep snow and zero visibility, including Interstate's 29 and 94.

Left: Trying to keep the roads open in Fargo, North Dakota

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some flooding and windy

A strengthening Colorado Low is forecast to cross Lake Huron on Wednesday. Ahead of this storm warm moist air will spread into southern and eastern Ontario and southwest Quebec. Rain will begin overnight and persist most of Wednesday with temperatures approaching 10C. Look for 25-35mm along Lake Erie with lesser amounts in the order of 15mm further north and east. The rain, combined with melting snow and ice, will cause a rise in area rivers. Flood Watches have been posted for all of New York and Vermont. The rain will also be accompanied by some thunderstorms.

Winds are forecast to increase in all portions of Ontario and southern Quebec and gust from 30-50km/h tonight and overnight and increase out of the southwest 50-80km/h along the cold front later Wednesday. Winds this strong can cause damage and warnings may be required.

Further west heavy snow with blizzard conditions are forecast across the Dakotas and into Minnesota, Manitoba and northwest Ontario as a result of his same storm.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Winter returns for a day

Low pressure over the western Great Lakes is moving east across New York State tonight and Monday. The storm has already produced heavy rain in WindIMG_1103sor and Detroit with warnings in place there. The rain has caused flooding in spots. Nearly 50mm of rain has occurred with thunderstorms as well being reported. The precipitation is creeping into the GTA at this hour. In Eastern Ontario and Montreal it has been a spectacular day, plenty of sunshine and very mild spring like temperatures. All that will end overnight as the precipitation shield begins to edge towards Kemptville. Look for snow and sleet to begin overnight and taper to flurries Monday. Between 10-15cm may occur in Kemptville. Further southwest along the 401 from Brockville to Trenton freezing rain is expected and it may be quite steady in places. A Freezing Rain Warning is in effect for those regions.

Winter Weather Advisories are in place for New York State for the same  mixture of snow and freezing rain. Further north and east in Montreal and southern Quebec, we will remain on the extreme northern edge of the  precipitation. It may snow lightly in Montreal on Monday with gusty northeast winds, and much colder temperatures then today.

Photo: A sign of the seasons as weight restrictions on roads across Ontario and Quebec begin to take effect while the ground thaws. This was near South Mountain today.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Spring Forward


Move clocks ahead 1 hour at 2am

It is that time of year again, at least according to the calendar. Time to move the clocks forward one hour Sunday morning at 2am. Daylight Savings Time begins tonight. We will add an hour to our afternoons, and take it away from the morning. So look for it to be bright to end the weekend. The sad part is we give up an hour of sleep tonight.

The weather will be mild all weekend.  Yesterdays rain and snow has moved well east of the region. It was very mild on Friday, 10C in Kemptville, 8C in Montreal and a remarkable 17C in Toronto and 19C in Sarnia. Today is cooler but still well above freezing. Rain will begin later today across the region as low pressure nudges in from Illinois, and taper to flurries overnight. Sunday will be mild and partly sunny before another storm form the US Midwest moves into the area with rain and snow for Monday. That system may miss Montreal but Kemptville is expecting some snow. Stay tuned for more info on that later Sunday.


Friday, March 06, 2009

Thunderstorms in Montreal

A cold front associated with low pressure northeast of Montreal is triggering quite a few thunderstorms in southern Quebec this afternoon. Despite the fact that it did not reach 8C today as expected due to low clouds and precipitation, the air has become unstable enough to support thunderstorm activity. These storms should dissipate this evening as the skies clear and temperatures dip to near zero. Expect brief heavy downpours with any storms and some lightning.

Tomorrow should be fair before another low pressure area from Texas moves into the region late in the day with steady rain into Sunday. Some portions of Ontario and Quebec could see between 15-25mm of rain from late Saturday into Sunday.

Skies will clear late Sunday and it will turn colder as well.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Freezing Rain Warning

An area of freezing rain and snow associated with low pressure and a warm front over the Great Lakes will move across eastern Ontario and southern Quebec tonight. Expect 5cm of snow before a gradual changeover to freezing rain after midnight. The freezing rain may accumulate 2-5mm of ice before temperatures warm well above freezing. It will be warm on Friday, close to plus 8 in the afternoon which should melt any ice that falls.

Travel may be poor overnight especially in the Ottawa Valley and the St. Lawrence Valley from Cornwall northeast. The 416, 401, 417, 20 and 40 will be affected.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Milder weather on the way

It is funny how life can come full circle. I spent the overnight period today delivering Montreal Gazettes for a friend of mine. It is jobPothole machine I did as a teenager and well into my twenties. It was a chilly night but thankfully clear and dry. This was not the case 38 years ago today when one of Montreal’s most famous snowstorms hammered the region. I wrote about that in a post below. I am just going to mention a couple of quick details I came across. The lowest barometric pressure reported in Montreal was an unbelievable 97.29kPa. This is as strong as a hurricane. Peak wind gusts were well over 110km/h. Over 43cm of snow fell in 24 hours with storm totals over 50cm. Power was out in places for up to a week, and 20 people perished in the storm. Some roads were closed for two days under two  storey drifts. I remember it well…

Our weather today is much more tranquil, sunny and temperatures close to normal. Weak low Highway 15pressure will move over the Great Lakes tonight with a warm front approaching the area on Thursday. We can expect some light snow or freezing rain in Kemptville and Montreal on Thursday afternoon. Any precipitation will change to rain on Friday as temperatures warm to well above freezing. Highs will be close to 8C on Friday.


Photos: Above right; a seasonal obstacle, fixing pot holes in north end Montreal. The above photo is Highway 15 south of Montreal yesterday. Despite the sunshine, blowing snow continued to be a problem from Mondays Nor'easter.

Monday, March 02, 2009

East Coast Storm

While March roared in like a lion from Washington to Halifax it was much more tame in Kemptville and Montreal. Heavy snow fell in many cities along the east coast with schools closed and hundreds of flights cancelled to and from the areWas2200058a. The snow was accompanied by very strong winds. Over 30cm fell in New York City and Boston with even more in interior portions of New Hampshire and Maine. The cut-off for the heavy snow was sharp and the snow made it into the far eastern suburbs of the south shore of Montreal but no further west. Only flurries and brisk north winds were reported in Montreal. The snow and blowing snow will continue tonight in the Townships and northern Vermont with 10-15cm by the end of the precipitation. Keep that in mind if your travels take you along Highway 10 or Interstates 89 and 91.

It will be breezy and cold elsewhere tonight with temperature close to minus 20C by sunrise in Ottawa, Kemptville and Montreal. Tuesday will be brisk and cold but sunny in most regions. March 2

Montreal road crews in LaSalle were ready today for the snow but it never arrived in the city with just a few flurries.

Photo above: In Virginia and most of the east coast, they were not so lucky with 20-40cm of snow falling from South Carolina to Nova Scotia.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

In like a lamb or lion

UPDATE: A major storm over the eastern seaboard will move from Hatteras, NC into the Maratimes by Monday night. Heavy snow and strong winds will affect the coast from the Carolina's northward into Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Heavy snow will fall as far west as the Champlain Valley of New York. In Ontario look for gusty winds and bitter cold, while in Montreal the cold will be accompanied by snow and blowing snow with 5cm in Montreal and up to 10cm along the US border.

"If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb."


Some weather sayings are from fact and others are handed down from years of stories and beliefs. This particular saying appears to be one of the latter, there is not much fact associated with the proverb. Yes, very often it is true, but that can be said about the entire month - variable. March is very much a transition month. We are moving our clocks ahead, the sun is getting warmer, and the days are getting much longer. However March is also the month of our biggest snowstorms, record breakers. This included the 43cm of snow that fell on Montreal in March 1971. The blizzard of 71 71Stormstands out among other storms for me because of its ferocity. It snowed heavily and the wind blew at 100km/h or more producing zero visibility for nearly 24 hours at Montreal. The barometric pressure was so low it resembled a category 2 hurricane. It was the event that started my interest in weather at a very young age. I was only 5 but remember the day very well as I sat in my window at 7241 LaSalle Blvd in Verdun watching the day unfold. The wind, the heavy snow and the huge drifts it was amazing. The photo to the left is of the 401 closed near Cornwall and littered with trucks during that storm. Below is a story on that day published last year in the Montreal Gazette.

Back in March of '71 ... Snowdrifts two storeys high and 43.2 cm in 24 hours left 17 people dead
The Gazette

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The 316 centimetres of snow that have fallen on Montreal so far this season may seem unbeatable, but we had much worse 37 years ago. That was our snowiest season on record, with a total of 383 centimetres, a quarter of that falling in March. On Thursday, March 4, 1971, as Montrealers were distracted by the 43.2 centimetres of snow that fell in 24 hours, our famously eligible prime minister managed to fly off and get married in secret. Pierre Elliott Trudeau married Margaret Sinclair on March 4 in Vancouver, taking almost everyone but the 12 people in attendance by surprise. Back here, the massive snowfall - dubbed Montreal's Storm of the Century before being eclipsed by the 1998 Ice Storm - left snowdrifts two storeys high. Seventeen people died in the Montreal area, killed by heart attacks, asphyxiation and traffic accidents. Many of the deaths occurred in cars that were stuck in the massive snow dump. Eighty per cent of the highways on and off the island of Montreal were closed for at least a day.

Police commandeered snowmobiles from private citizens to get around. Banks were closed the Friday after the storm and, unusually, opened for three hours on Saturday to accommodate clients. Many businesses sent their employees home early on March 4 and didn't open the next day because of the difficulty in getting around. Getting home the night of the storm was a problem because commuter trains could not get through the deep drifts. Airline passengers were stranded at what was then Dorval International Airport. City buses were operating only on major arteries.

Downtown hotels, bars and restaurants were crowded with stranded workers and merrymakers. There was no home delivery of The Gazette on March 5 because of the road conditions. We apologized. Montrealers had little time to put down their shovels. We got another 17 centimetres of snow on March 7, 1971.

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008